LITHIA — It seemed as if an invisible wall was stationed in front of the Lakeland Jenkins goal early Friday in the Class 5A-District 6 girls soccer final. Newsome was unable to score, falling behind by a goal in the first half.
However, in the 53rd minute after seven shots on goal, Karli Gutsche sent a 45-yard free kick into the box. The ball was flicked on by Hannah Roth to the line, and with little effort the wall was smashed with a toe tap from Lindsey Eaton as Newsome (18-0) tied the match and went on to top Jenkins, 2-1.
The Wolves continued to charge, and in the 75th minute they got the decider as Claire Kartheiser sent a cross to the left and Peyton Smith sent it in to the far post. The Wolves had a 12-7 advantage on shots on goal, but they had to contend with tough Eagles keeper Haleigh Mercer.
“Our whole team worked for our team to come back,” Smith said. “Their keeper was really tough tonight, but Claire sent me a great ball.”
The Wolves got standout defensive play from sophomore Shayna Zajac, who marked Eagles weapon Lauren Greene all night, while Gutsche battled midfielder Camille Knudstrup. For Gutsche, a junior, the win was one she’d been waiting for since watching older sister Karina (now playing at the University of Florida) play Jenkins four times in postseason play, losing the first three before winning in her senior year.
“They are a great team,” Gutsche said. “I remember when I was in eighth grade and coming to watch my sister beat them in the regional final, and every time we’ve seen them it’s always been a tough game.”
4A-8: Mitchell stays unbeaten
TRINITY — Just like the rest of the regular season, Mitchell dominated from start to finish and took the Class 4A-District 8 title with ease thanks to a 5-0 win against Sickles.
The Mustangs (22-0) got two goals from leading scorer Sabrina Wagner, who has 36 this season, while Mitchell has outscored its opponents 127-5.
“We expected to be at this point from the start,” Mustangs coach Karl Kukec said. “From the beginning, our goal has always been to get this far and go further, and we went far last year (state semifinals) and our goal again this year is to get to states.”
Mitchell struck quickly, scoring 4 minutes in on a goal from Noah Stokes, who later assisted on Danielle Gottwik’s goal in the 14th minute.
The Mustangs took a 3-0 lead into halftime after Wagner buried a penalty kick, then scored in the 47th minute. Reserve Brooke Snoll added the fifth goal in the 63rd minute, while keeper Erica Disbrow remained largely untested and picked up her 15th shutout of the season.
Sickles (10-5-1) had few scoring chances or shots, and didn’t have its first shot until the 36th minute. A stout defense led by FAU commitment Gina Davis kept the Gryphons at bay.
4A-9: Lott leads Plant City past East Bay
GIBSONTON — Ericka Lott had an assist and the winning goal — her team-leading 25th — as Plant City beat East Bay 2-1 for the Class 4-District 9 championship.
East Bay scored first on a long-range kick by Yasmin Bailie that traveled to the center of the field in front of the Plant City goal area.
Teammate Michelle Rodriguez was running full speed toward the ball, kicking it in at the 18-minute mark and giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Plant City tied it 35 minutes into the match. Ericka Lott passed to Stephanie Galloway, and she took a sharp angle to her right and rolled the ball into the net.
The winning goal came when Lott found herself with the ball at the left front of the goal box at the 42-minute mark. With a clear shot, she shot toward the right corner of the net to score and make it 2-1.
3A-8: Land O’ Lakes shuts out Sunlake
ZEPHYRHILLS — Lauren Arrabito needed only one save to notch her 13th shutout of the season as Land O’ Lakes cruised to its third straight district championship by defeating rival Sunlake 4-0 for the Class 3A-District 7 title.
The Gators got on the board quickly, as Samantha Epifanio took a pass from Catherine Gray and blasted it into the net less than a minute into the contest.
In the 33rd minute, Lacy Nasello headed in a cross on a corner kick by Haley Eckel and Land O’ Lakes took a 2-0 lead into the half.
The Gators, who have reached the region playoffs seven times in the past eight years, extended their lead in the 65th minute on a breakaway goal by Victoria Cannata before putting the game away on a goal by Lindsay Pearl late in the match.
2A-9: Tampa Prep claims another title
TAMPA — Tampa Prep’s ninth consecutive girls district championship might have been its most unlikely.
Thanks to a stellar defense that held top-seeded host Academy of the Holy Names to six shots, and goals by Abby Bravo and Ingrid Van Hoek, the Terrapins (10-8-1) defeated the Jaguars (15-2) 2-0 to win the Class 2A-District 9 crown.
“They were a brick wall,” said Tampa Prep coach Cindy Schofield of the defense. “We were in their half (of the field) the whole time. We came out fired up.
“Our goal as always is the (state) final four.”
Tampa Prep’s first goal came off a scrum in front of the AHN net after the ball got away from the Jaguars’ goalkeeper. The ball deflected off another defender and onto the foot of Bravo, who punched it in. Amanda Hill was credited with an assist.
“This is the biggest deal in the world to us,” Bravo said of beating AHN for the district title.
The Terrapins lost to the Jaguars 3-1 in the regular season.
AHN’s best chance to tie came on a penalty kick before halftime, after leading scorer Julia Lester was fouled in the box and left the game briefly with an injury.
But the penalty kick went over the crossbar. Schofield said it might have been a different game had the Jaguars converted.
Van Hoek’s insurance goal, with 4:40 to play, was her first of the season. Off a corner kick, she headed in a centering pass from Darla Harrison.
1A-5: CDS stops Cambridge Christian
TAMPA — Carrollwood Day School didn’t play a game for more than a month before this week’s Class 1A-District 5 tournament, but the Patriots looked pretty sharp.
In a tight defensive struggle in the championship against Cambridge, CDS not only played well, but it took a 2-0 victory and the first girls district soccer title in school history.
“I challenged the kids to work hard and stay focused during the (layoff because of holiday and district scheduling conflicts),” CDS coach Donna Holyman said. “All the kids stepped up and made the most of it.”
Through the first half Friday, it was pretty much dead even in every way, including the score at 0-0.
It wasn’t until the 57th minute that CDS senior Alex Schweitzer broke through with a penalty kick that slipped just under the keeper’s hand.
Schweitzer earned the penalty kick after Cambridge was called for a hand ball just in front of the goal.
Schweitzer, however, wasn’t feeling comfortable after her score.
“I knew the game would get tougher (after CDS went ahead 1-0), because I knew Cambridge was going to keep coming at us,” Schweitzer said. “Once we got the second goal (by Lauren Meaney off a deflection in the 69th minute)
“I felt better, but I wasn’t going to relax until it was over.”
5A-7: Palm Harbor blanks Plant
PALM HARBOR — Throughout the season, Palm Harbor University’s defense has been one of the stiffest in the state.
In the Class 5A-District 7 final against Plant, PHU showed a combination of a potent offense and impenetrable defense. The Hurricanes scored three first-half goals en route to a 5-0 win against the Panthers.
“If we can keep this up, I’ll be a happy camper,” Palm Harbor University coach John Planamenta said. “They’ve been playing well, with confidence, recently and we’ve been finishing well.”
In one of Plant’s lone scoring threats on the night, Emma Haney headed a shot toward goal, but it was saved by PHU goalkeeper Rachel Taylor in the 12th minute. From there, it was all Hurricanes, as they received goals from Alyssa Skryd, Marisa Ruland and Shalisa Crowell in the first half.
In the second half, the Hurricanes (10-1-3) added to the lead with goals from Alexis Mouton and Aniko Zabo.
Plant (12-4-2) was only able to get off two shots on goal the entire second half.
3A-7: Nature Coast ends Hudson’s streak
BROOKSVILLE — Top-seeded Hudson and No. 2 Brooksville Nature Coast needed penalty kicks to decide the Class 3A-District 7 title.
Nature Coast got successful penalty kicks from senior Hailey Lalande, freshman Jayna Tyler and senior Rosie Witherell in defeating Hudson 2-1 (3-2 in penalty kicks) to end the Cobras’ 17-game winning streak.
Pasco County’s leading scorer, Dominique Cirnigliaro with 56 goals, missed a majority of the game after suffering a right wrist/forearm injury.
Hudson’s Brittany Cirnigliaro scored the game’s first goal on an assist from Marissa Speary at 17:46.
Nature Coast knotted the score on Lalande’s goal midway through the second half.
3A-9 semi: Robinson defeats Middleton
TAMPA — Robinson may have defeated Middleton 6-0 in the Class 3A-District 9 girls soccer semifinal, but Middleton made it much tougher on the Knights compared to the teams’ first two meetings, both 9-0 victories for Robinson.
Through the first 28 minutes, the game was scoreless before Sara Jennewein broke through for the first of her two goals. Knights forward Sam Ishee added three goals.
Robinson (12-5) will host the 3A-9 championship game this morning at 10 against Bradenton Southeast, a 4-1 winner against Jefferson in the other semifinal.